Sunday, August 3, 2014

Common Questions: What Do You Call a Group of...?

Animal Congregations, or What Do You Call a Group of.....?

So you're stuck on 15 down (the collective name for a group of rhinos) in today's crossword puzzle or you are writing the definitive novel about 17th century England and you need to know what they called a group of rooks, or perhaps you are into writing poetry and want to celebrate spring with a reference to larks. Whatever the motivating factor, we have received a spate of questions on collective nouns or group names for all sorts of critters. Perhaps the following, gleaned and compiled from several sources, will help. I've tried to indicate proper usage for terms that apply to a specific type of assemblage or to only a single gender or age, but some of my sources were fairly general. Where my sources disagreed on spelling, I let the majority rule. This listing exhausts the meager pile of references available at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; if the animal that you are interested in doesn't appear here, please, please, ask someone else, because I can't help you!
If you are interested in derivation of some of these names, or if you just want some fun reading, check out James Lipton's book entitled "An Exaltation of Larks" 2nd edition (Penguin Books 1977). Birders interested in avian nomenclature should see Bruce Campbell and Elizabeth Lack's "A Dictionary of Birds" (Buteo Books 1985).
Happy Trivia, Dave Fellows

ApesA shrewdness
AssesA pace
BadgersA cete
BatsA colony
BearsA sloth, sleuth
BuffaloA gang, an obstinacy (I suspect these refer to old world buffalo; use "herd" for American bison)
CatsA clowder, a pounce; for kittens...A kindle, litter, an intrigue
CattleA drove, herd
DeerA herd, bevy (refers only to roe deer)
DogsA litter (young), pack (wild), cowardice (of curs); specific to hounds...A cry, mute, pack, kennel
ElephantsA herd
ElkA gang
FerretsA business
FoxA leash, skulk, earth
GiraffesA tower
GoatsA tribe, trip
GorillasA band
HippopotamusesA bloat
HorsesA team, harras, rag (for colts), stud (a group of horses belonging to a single owner, string (ponies)
HyenasA cackle
KangaroosA troop
LeopardsA leap
LionsA pride
MartensA richness
MolesA labor
MonkeysA troop, barrel
MulesA pack, span, barren
OttersA romp
OxenA team, yoke
PigsA drift, drove, litter (young), sounder (of swine), team, passel (of hogs), singular (refers to a group of boars)
PorcupinesA prickle
RabbitsA colony, warren, nest, herd (domestic only), litter (young); specific to hares...A down, husk
RhinocerosesA crash
SealsA pod, herd
SheepA drove, flock, herd
SquirrelsA dray, scurry
TigersA streak
WhalesA pod, gam, herd
WolvesA pack, rout or route (when in movement)

Birds in generalA flight (in the air), flock (on the ground), volary, brace (generally for gamebirds or waterfowl, referring to a pair or couple killed by a hunter)
BitternsA sedge
BuzzardsA wake
BobolinksA chain
Chicks (of many species)A brood; clutch
CootsA cover
CormorantsA gulp
CranesA sedge
CrowsA murder, horde
DotterelA trip
DovesA dule, pitying (specific to turtle doves)
DucksA brace, flock (in flight), raft (on water) team, paddling (on water), badling
EaglesA convocation
FinchesA charm
FlamingosA stand
GeeseA flock, gaggle (on the ground), skein (in flight)
GrouseA pack (in late season)
GullsA colony
HawksA cast, kettle (flying in large numbers), boil (two or more spiraling in flight)
HeronsA sedge, a siege
JaysA party, scold
LapwingsA deceit
LarksAn exaltation
MallardsA sord (in flight), brace
MagpiesA tiding, gulp, murder, charm
NightingalesA watch
OwlsA parliament
ParrotsA company
PartridgeA covey
PeacocksA muster, an ostentation
PenguinsA colony
PheasantA nest, nide (a brood), nye, bouquet
PloversA congregation, wing (in flight)
PtarmigansA covey
RooksA building
QuailA bevy, covey
RavensAn unkindness
SnipeA walk, a wisp
SparrowsA host
StarlingsA murmuration
StorksA mustering
SwallowsA flight
SwansA bevy, wedge (in flight)
TealA spring
TurkeysA rafter, gang
WidgeonsA company
WoodcocksA fall
WoodpeckersA descent

Reptiles and Amphibians
CrocodilesA bask
FrogsAn army
ToadsA knot
TurtlesA bale, nest
Snakes, vipersA nest

Fish in generalA draft, nest, school, shoal (some authors claim that the common "school" is a corruption of shoal, and therefore incorrect)
BassA shoal
HerringAn army
SharksA shiver
TroutA hover

AntsA colony
BeesA grist, hive, swarm
CaterpillarsAn army
ClamsA bed
CockroachesAn intrusion
FliesA business
GnatsA cloud, horde
GrasshoppersA cloud
HornetsA nest
JellyfishA smack
LocustsA plague
OystersA bed

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